Do you need a medical power of attorney?
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

Do you need a medical power of attorney?

No matter how healthy a person is, at some point, things go downhill. The body, the mind, or both will fade with age or illness. It is part of how people are built. At some point, you may not be able to decide how to take care of yourself. This is when a medical power of attorney is important.

A medical power of attorney names a person who, if you cannot decide for yourself, has authority to direct your medical care. It kicks in when you lose that capacity, and lasts for as long as you live unless you revoke it.

Thinking about needing this is hard, and a medical power of attorney may prove unnecessary. Even so, planning for the possibility helps you and your loved ones. Preparing it can give you protection and peace of mind for your future.

How a Medical Power of Attorney Works

A medical power of attorney takes effect if you are unconscious or not physically or mentally able to make decisions for your health. A doctor will determine this, so your loved ones do not have to make the call. Once it kicks in, it gives the person you name the right to make medical decisions for you.

You should choose that person, your health care representative, carefully. This means you need someone you trust to act in your best interests. Further, it must be someone who can handle the responsibility. Deciding on a loved one’s medical care can be overwhelming.

Until the medical power of attorney takes effect, you can change or revoke it at any time. Once the document kicks in, though, it remains in effect until you regain capacity or die.

Help Yourself and Your Family

Imagine a close family member was in a serious car accident. Would you know what medical decisions they would want to be made? Or, would you be left guessing how to proceed during the highly emotional and stressful time? Now imagine that same family member had a medical power of attorney in place. You would simply refer to the document and recall your conversation with them to know what their vision for care would include.

Future health problems can be a difficult situation to discuss. No one wants to think about a loved one losing consciousness or being too sick to make health care choices. Still, planning for those possibilities is helpful to your family. It keeps people from wondering how to proceed.

The medical power of attorney also gives you a chance to talk to your family about what you want. You can decide on end of life care, or make other decisions in the document. You empower the health care representative to determine the rest. The document gives you a reason to talk through what you want. You can open up and tell your family how you want them to handle big decisions.

These are hard conversations. You and your family may struggle. The discussion is beneficial though. It forces you to confront and discuss hard topics, and prepare your loved ones for what may come.

A medical power of attorney can give you peace of mind for your future. An experienced attorney can discuss different scenarios you may want to include in your legal documents. Contact Ogborne Law to begin preparing your medical power of attorney.